MATAG-OB, LEYTE – Three remote villages in this town are the first villages in the Province of Leyte to be certified “Zero Open Defecation” (ZOD) barangays, in a simple ceremony led by Save the Children, health authorities and local officials on Saturday, September 28.
These are the villages of Bulak, Masaba, and San Dionesio.
The declaration came after an authorized government body, including hygiene specialists and international organizations, certified the villages as such. This means that residents will no longer defecate just everywhere, because they already had toilets of their own. Defecation in public is known to cause contamination of water sources and diarrheal diseases.
The three remote villages achieved Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status after households in the said barangays installed a toilet each and access to water supply.
Before achieving this status, it was learned that 70% of the households in these communities did not have toilets. Save the Children adopted the said barangays and donated toilet materials to each household.
Save the Children gave materials for a toilet each to 135 households in Brgy. Bulak, 137 in Brgy. Masaba, and 82 in Brgy. San Dionesio.
The recipients constructed their own comfort rooms based on the design set by Save the Children, which monitored every now and then if the design was followed.
Aside from that, lectures on proper hygiene and sanitation were also conducted to ensure sustainability of the project. “It is not enough that we provide communities with construction materials. The communities that achieved zero open defecation were successful because they now see the importance of proper hygiene and sanitation”, said Reggie Aquino, Save the Children’s Program Development and Quality Manager.
Congresswoman Lucy Torres-Gomez, represented by her brother-in-law Ormoc City councilor Vincent Rama, extended her warmest thanks to Save the Children. He also extended her felicitations to the barangay health workers, calling them “unsung heroes”. The barangay health workers were in the forefront of assisting the iNGO in its ZOD program.
Meanwhile, the ZOD declaration was warmly welcomed by the barangay chairman of the three villages: Ramil Casas of Brgy. Bulak, Teofilo Lubiano of Brgy. Masaba, and Segunda Donayre of Brgy. San Dionesio. They profusely thanked Save the Children for helping their barangays to be the first ZOD barangays in Leyte.
Vice-mayor Michael Torrevillas, on the other hand, also conveyed the appreciation of the municipal officials to the program, saying iNGO’s like Save the Children have greatly help Matag-ob town recover fast from Yolanda’s wrath.
In his message, Thomas Howells, Save the Children’s Field Manager for Western Leyte, said that “the reason why these barangays are the first is because they responded quickly”.
Howells said the ZOD declaration means that they are not only “protected from diseases caused by defecation” but also “gives dignity to all inhabitants because they have healthy environment.”
The team behind the ZOD declaration was also present to witness the handing over of ZOD certificates. The team was composed of sanitary inspectors, municipal health officers, and external verifiers from other NGOs such as Oxfam, World Vision, International Medical Corps, and UNICEF.
The program, in partnership with DOH and other humanitarian organizations, is under Save the Children’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) project – which aims to promote awareness on hygiene, repair, and restoration of water systems in the community, and achieve zero open defecation status for each barangay they are working with. To date, Save the Children has provided construction materials for over 6,525 toilets in 32 barangays and plans to help build 3,475 more across 47 barangays in 2014.
Save the Children’s Ormoc hub cover five municipalities: Matag-ob, Kananga, Capoocan, Villaba, and Merida. Other villages slated for ZOD certification are Payao in Villaba town; and San Ignacio, Santa Domingo and Libertad in Kananga, Leyte.
Save the Children, Howell said, is not yet done with these communities. They are also set to develop a waste management plan in the next few years for long-term sustainability. By Jhay Gaspar with a PR